Caught on tape, Sean Spicer explains why the New York Times, CNN and others were banned from Friday’s White House press conference: “We’re going to aggressively push back.”

As we were just discussing, the White House banned reporters from the New York Times, CNN, and Politico from this past Friday’s scheduled briefing with Sean Spicer. At the time, the administration assured us that it was nothing out of the ordinary, and that we shouldn’t read too much into it. Audio just released from the private press event, however, tells a different story. In it, the White House Press Secretary can be heard telling those journalists that were allowed into the room why their associates had been kept out. “We’re going to aggressively push back,” he said. “We’re just not going to sit back and let, you know, false narratives, false stories, inaccurate facts get out there.” The following audio comes by way of Politico.

As for why this is happening right now, I hope to post more later tonight, but, for the time being, let’s just say that Dan Rather was probably onto something last night when he told Chris Matthews that a lot of this is a “very calculated smokescreen” meant to draw attention away from stories about Trump’s Russian connections.

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  1. Citywatch
    Posted February 26, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    They have got to go.

  2. Cassandra
    Posted February 26, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    What part of “the decisions of this President will not be questioned” do these reporters not understand?

  3. Mr. X
    Posted February 26, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Just to clarify, this is the same Sean Spicer who said in December that keeping certain news organizations from White House press conferences wouldn’t happen in a Democracy, correct?

  4. Tony
    Posted February 26, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Word is that the intelligence community hates him mostly because he believes random stuff he learns from TV and Twitter than the intelligence briefings which he is rumored to not attend. So, if these Russian connections are there, why don’t they bury him either through official channels or by leaking the evidence to the press?

    To be clear, I’m asking to really ask. It’s not a rhetorical question because I’m implying there’s nothing there with the Russians. I hope there he is. I want him out of there. I’m already pissed that I will have to look at his orange punchy face every time I visit the National Portrait Gallery as do generations of my offspring assuming he doesn’t cause WW3.

  5. Posted February 26, 2017 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Granted, I don’t have any sources in the intelligence community, but I think it goes beyond the fact that he gets his information from Fox News, Tony. My sense is that some in the intelligence community are genuinely concerned about the power Putin seems to wield over this administration. As for why they don’t bury him right now, I have no idea. My guess, however, is that the wheels are in motion.

  6. Jeannie Leverich
    Posted February 27, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Are they just school yard bullies writ large?

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted February 27, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    It takes a long time to build a case for impeachment. Especially since the house would need to initiate the process. The standard of proof will need to be extremely high and the crime treasonous.

  8. anonymous
    Posted February 27, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a blowjob.

  9. Meta
    Posted February 27, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Tony, Tablet Magazine says there’s nothing to the story, and that’s why the other shoe hasn’t dropped.

    So when does the other shoe drop? Who’s going to break the story proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the president of the United States is so deeply connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the White House has become a Muscovite colony in all but name?

    Time to use some common sense—it’s not going to happen, there is no story. The narrative that Donald Trump is effectively Putin’s prison wife is an information operation orchestrated by Democratic hands, many of whom served in the Obama administration, sectors of the intelligence community, and much of the American press. The purpose of the campaign is to delegitimize Trump’s presidency by continuing to hit on themes drawn from the narrative that Russia “hacked” the election and stole it away from Clinton.

    The narrative is contorted because it’s not journalism. It’s a story that could only make sense in a profoundly corrupted public sphere, one in which, for instance, Graydon Carter is celebrated for speaking truth to power with an editor’s letter critical of Trump in a magazine that has no other ontological ground in the universe except to celebrate power.

    Oh, sure, there are regular hints that there’s still more to come on Trump and his staff’s ties to Russia—the big one is about to hit. But the steady sound of drip-drip-drip is the telltale sign of a political campaign, where items are leaked bit by bit to paralyze the target. Journalists, on the other hand, have to get their story out there as quickly, and as fully, as possible because they’re always worried the competition is going to beat them to it.

    No, if Trump really was in bed with the Russians, the story would already be out there, and I’m pretty sure it would have had a Wayne Barrett byline.

    When I worked at the Village Voice in the mid-1990s, my office was right around the corner from Barrett’s and his bullpen of interns, a team that kept the heat on local politicians like Rudy Giuliani, Ed Koch, and others. Barrett was the first journalist who wrote at length about Trump, starting in the mid-1970s. His biography, Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, was published in 1992, and reissued in 2016 as Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention.

    When Trump won the nomination and the pace of Trump stories picked up, Barrett became something of an official archivist, with reporters visiting his Brooklyn house to go through his files in the basement. Anyone who wanted to know what Trump’s deal with Russia was, for instance, would want to talk to Barrett because either he or his team of interns, 40 years’ worth, would have it. After all, New York City is the world capital for information on Russians, even better than Israel—because even though the city got a smaller number of post-Cold War immigrants, New York got a higher percentage of mobsters.

    Let’s compare the institution of Wayne Barrett, a subset of the institution of journalism, to the so-called Russia dossier, the document placing Trump in a shady underworld governed by Putin and other Russian thugs. The former includes not only Barrett’s body of work over nearly half a century, but that of the hundreds of journalists he trained, and many thousands of sources whose information is, therefore, able to be cross-checked.

    The latter, a congeries of preadolescent pornographic fantasy and spy tales, was authored by a British intelligence officer who has gone to ground since the dossier was made public. The dossier started as work made for hire, first paid for by Republican opponents of Trump and then the Clinton camp, and is sourced to Russian “contacts” who are clearly using the document as an opportunity to proliferate an information operation for perhaps various and as yet unknown purposes. The former is journalism. The latter, part oppo research and part intelligence dump, is garbage. Clearly, it is also the new standard in the field, which is why journalists on both sides of the political spectrum are boasting about their willingness to let their bylines be used as bulletin boards for spy services and call it a “scoop.”

    Barrett had Trump on a whole variety of issues, but check the records yourself—up until the day of his death, the day before Trump’s inauguration, there’s nothing on Trump and Putin. Does this mean Trump is totally clean? Who knows? But the journalists now clamoring like maniacs about Trump’s ties sure aren’t going to find it. They’re thin-skinned hacks outraged that Trump dared violate the inherent dignity of that most important of American political institutions, the presidential press conference. And as we all know, this is the apex of real journalism, where esteemed members of the press sit side by side with other masters of the craft to see who gets their question televised.

    Does Trump really believe the media are “an enemy of the people”? Please. Let’s remember how he rode his wave to fame on the back of the New York Post’s Page Six (and Graydon Carter’s Spy magazine). He still speaks regularly to the head of CNN (aka “Fake News”), Jeff Zucker, who put him on The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice at NBC, where Trump sat atop the Nielsens for 13 years. Trump uses his Twitter feed to boost his replacement Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings because the president still has a credit as executive producer. No, Trump doesn’t hate the media. Like Howard Stern, he sees himself as the king of all media. What he’s doing here is playing gladiator in front of an audience that wants to see the lions slain.

    Maybe Trump deserves the heat with the fake Russia stories. He backed the Obama birth certificate story, and what goes around comes around. But the American public sure doesn’t deserve a press like this.

    Trump adviser Steve Bannon calls the media the opposition party, but that’s misleading. Everyone knows that the press typically tilts left, and no one is surprised, for instance, that The New York Times has not endorsed a Republican candidate since 1956. But that’s not what we’re seeing now—rather, the media has become an instrument in a campaign of political warfare. What was once an American political institution and a central part of the public sphere became something more like state-owned media used to advance the ruling party’s agenda and bully the opposition into silence. Russia’s RT network, the emir of Qatar’s Al Jazeera network—indeed, all of the Arab press—and media typically furnished by Third World regimes became the American press’ new paradigm; not journalism, but information operation.

    How did this happen? It’s not about a few journalists, many of whom still do honor to the profession, or a few papers or networks. It’s a structural issue. Much of it is because of the wounds the media inflicted on itself, but it was also partly due to something like a natural catastrophe that no one could have predicted, or controlled.

    Read more:

  10. fn0
    Posted February 27, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    re: Does Trump really believe the media are “an enemy of the people”? Please.
    – At the time Trump says it, he believes it. Tomorrow who knows. An honest tweet would have said “the media are the enemy of me because they won’t say what I want them to say.” He can’t influence responsible media like he did the New York Post, and this annoys him bigly.

    re: The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice at NBC, where Trump sat atop the Nielsens for 13 years.
    – Not true. It’s an alternative fact that he was top of the rating for 13 years, e.g. season 5 was 72nd.

    But these are all distractions from the Russian issue. Let’s hope the truth comes out whatever it is, also the tax return.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Bill Clinton face a Republican Congress. Congress, specifically the house need to introduce articles of impeachment. If Trump faced a opposition led Congress, he might have already been impeached on lesser charges. With a GOP help House, the charges will need to be very well founded, treasonous and so undeniable.

    PS Tablet speaks with far too much certainty about matters still under investigation. Any new outlet that dismisses an ongoing story should be questionned.

  12. Jean Henry
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

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